• Darrel Hull

Get Your Music Heard - A Guide For Independent, Unsigned Artists

Updated: May 16

Once a singer or band has released a song or album the most important thing is to get in out there.
Yes, there’s Spotify, Soundcloud, YouTube, TikTok etc, but you should never turn your back on radio, especially with there being so many internet stations & web-based shows around, all presented by people who are passionate about supporting original music from independent, unsigned artists.
So, how can up & coming singers & bands increase their chances of securing airplay on these outlets?
1) Ensure your music is as good quality as possible. I do appreciated that professional mixing & mastering can be outside the budget of those just setting out, however there is plenty inexpensive equipment & software available to help until you’re in a position to pay for outside assistance, and never forget that most important of tools.. your ears!

Very few stations or presenters will give airtime to music that is acoustically bad or where lyrics are impossible/difficult to hear. Not only does airing tracks of poor quality give the show a bad name, it can discourage a would be fan from ever listening or following an artist.

Also, make sure the file/s sent in are named correctly with the correct title, artist & include artwork if possible (this is essential if sending in albums).
I have lost count of the number of songs received either entitled unknown, only display a track number, are miss-titled, or, as in a couple cases, the whole songs on an album being wrongly named. When I come across these I usually just send everything into the bin!

2) Do not to simply spam/approach every show & station without listening in first.

Some shows centre around a particular genre, music from a certain localised area, others, like my own have a more eclectic mix.

The key is, show respect for all the presenters & stations out there who dedicate so much time, energy & money in supporting independent, unsigned artists. Listen into shows before submitting music. This simple thing will also save the disappointment of having songs/albums turned down.

Liking/sharing links to shows you enjoy & who play your music can also increase airtime for your music.. remember it goes both ways, presenters would have no music to play without artists & artists would have no airtime without shows.. which takes us back to respect & supporting each other.

A good way to show support is to thank presenters for playing your music, for example, posting reviews such as these to be found on my own website:
Thanks a lot for the play! Delighted to be among such a fab bunch of musicians

Excellent shows that are very supportive of artists like me.

Daz has played all three of my singles on his show and it is much appreciated
But please don’t think this is a one way thing, that you need to stroke a presenters ego to gain airtime! Respect goes both ways, as far as I’m concerned artists support my show & I support them, it is a win win for both.

Each time I promote an edition of Hat Tracks, Hat Chats or Artist In The Spotlight on social media; Facebook & Twitter, for example, I will always ‘tag’ each artist featured on it. Each time an artist comments I will always respond, commenting on how much I like their tracks, thanking them for sending music in. So make sure to include all your social network pages (especially Facebook & Twitter when submitting music).

The more these posts are liked & shared across platforms the more it benefits all.

3) Try to build a relationship with shows/presenters who enjoy your music, for instance, pick one, make a habit of sending in new music, offer them an exclusive before others.

For instance I have a special section for Hat Tracks Exclusives, songs & albums sent in pre-release, before any other station/show receives them and give them a special mention on the show.

As far as initially approaching shows & presenters is concerned, never just contact them with only a link or just a song, tell the presenter about the song/album you would like them to play, give details of the artist, this allows the presenter to give the song a better introduction.

Here are some wonderful examples of a first approach I’ve received:

I just learned about your radio show from a friend who is being featured on it [Name Of Artist]. Thanks for giving indie artists a spotlight!

Please find attached a copy of latest release and 4th single [Band Name] We hope our post punk indie rock style fits with your show and it would be great to get a nod of approval from your direction.

Any possibility of you playing my song on your radio show? I attach an MP3 of the track. It's a bright, uptempo track about a folk club/open mic singer dreaming of hitting the big-time.
Also, keep in mind that presenters are sent in so much music that they may not always get round to playing your song straight away, so please be patient, if you are told that a track/album will be aired, it will be, constant emails/messages asking when will only lead to it being delayed or even not played at all.
Something else to add to emails are details of where & when tracks & albums can be purchased & any live performances coming up.
Always have a Music file, cover art photo and biog info prepared and easily to hand in a folder so you can immediately respond to any notices on social media asking for radio submissions or reply immediately if you get a request to submit your music. This saves you having to scrabble around searching your computer or phone to find the files amongst hundreds of others as a quick response gets better results. Here is a video from Mike Evens from Unsigned Radio EPK's (Electronic Press Kits), what they are & how to put them together: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2ZbeLZ0eWMU
4) Take note of submission requirements, while big stations & those based in the community may have the facility to stream, home based presenters may not have access to the equipment necessary, and ask tracks themselves be sent in either MP3, WAV format or either.

Keeping with the same topic, almost every time I share a link to a new edition of my show I get very frustrated at the number of comments I receive only adding links to videos, streaming platforms with no message or introduction.. all of which get ignored.
5) Be aware that presenters have the right to choose what music they wish to air on their shows, artist DO NOT have the right to demand airtime! In fact, adopting this attitude will invariably have the adverse effect.

Once again, show respect, there could be many reasons for having your tracks turned down, some of which I’ve previous mentioned.

But don’t loose heart, should you be turned down by one show, accept it & move on, there are hundreds of other shows & stations out there. Here are pointers of where to find them, and don't forget my to visit my own site of course:
www.dazinthehat.com: Shows -

Hat Tracks airs a variety of original music from different genres, accept single tracks & albums (originals only)
Hat Tracks - Artist In The Spotlight; One of music from one artist per show - at least 20 different songs per singer/band (originals only)

Your local community radio station: most stations are run by volunteer presenters (incidentally, this was where I started off). Visit the stations website, browse though presenters bio’s & listen into shows to discover who & which would be more attuned to your music.
www.unsignedradio.co.uk - Set up by Mike Evans Unsigned Radio is a great platform for artists to get their original music aired. You can enjoy a selection of shows by various presenters, including Mike, it also hosts my Hat Tracks - Artist In The Spotlight.
www.Mixcloud.com - Mixcloud is a platform that many freelance DJ’s use playing an extremely wide genre of music, if your music is turned down by one presenter, I’m almost positive they’ll be one, at the very least on MixCloud - once. Again though.. make sure to listen in to a few first before approaching.
indiebible.com - USA based but has international information on Radio Stations. Also does have genre info of Radio Stations so aids a targeted approach. (annual fee to access the info)
Also, visiting is GER (Green Eyed Records), not only does the platform hold a comprehensive list of stations & shows that support original music from independent, unsigned artists, it also offers various types of support: https://www.greeneyedrecords.co.uk/radio-friends
Another source of support is UK Based www.theunsignedguide.com which includes data base of UK stations who will pay unsigned and independent acts (monthly subscription required).
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